Some time ago, when Liverpool was awarded the title European City Of Culture, I ventured to inquire whether any other city had entered the fray.
I never discovered a list of runners and riders, so my initial suspicion remains that there were no other candidates.
This same thought came back to me when I heard that Doncaster Council was entering a competition to find the ‘Most Improved Council’ of the year.
Apparently, even in these straightened times, the authority admits to splashing out £5,000 on this futile nonsense, but no mention is made whether the mayor and her 19-officer support group enjoyed an overnight stay when they travelled to London to make their case; it may therefore have cost more.
This ‘prestigious’ award apparently attracted four entrants and Doncaster failed to bring home the spoils.
There is no way a council that neglects the old, the poor and the vulnerable could ever be considered to be improving.
Doncaster Council has become totally introspective, concerned only with its own reputation and relies on its cronies in the Local Government Association (cost to Doncaster, £50,000 per annum) to pass meaningless judgments on its progress, though this time it seems that even they have had enough.
The only judges worth talking to are the people of Doncaster but their views seems to count for little.
And then we find that the mayor has agreed a deal with the unions, two months before the general election, to hand out £500,000 to low-paid council workers in the form of the living wage, backdated to April 2014.
This is a divisive and partial policy where those in the public sector receive the living wage, but those in the private sector do not.
And, to make matters worse, low-paid private sector workers will be subsidising their now better-off counterparts through council tax and other charges.
Many of us support the concept of the living wage, but it must be introduced across the board through government legislation, not on the whim of an elected mayor who is not considering the needs, rights and interests of the entire local population.
Increasing council tax by six per cent and paying huge salaries to officers have not done any favours to those struggling to make ends meet.
It is amazing how councils, in supposedly austere times, can always find money for pointless policies.
It is also remarkable how local politicians have such a flair for spending other people’s money.
But then, in the context of the imminent general election, they have been set a wonderful example by the assortment of nondescripts jockeying for our votes.
* Peter Davies, former elected mayor